I cannot and will not pretend that parenting is a 100 per cent stress free job, occupation, choice, thing. Often, parenting my kids is exactly like driving through my car. I try to be patient as people signal right and turn left. I try not to yell when people see their lane ends and I’m leaving them a spot to merge yet drive up further anyway. I try not to pull my hair out when my daughters think “how many times can Daddy tell us not to touch the oven before he foams at the mouth” is a fun game.
But I do get frustrated and upset and do want to go crazy some times. But what I’ve realized is that unlike being in a car where there is nothing in the world that can calm me down once I’ve been cut off 18 times, my daughters have a natural ability to soothe me. They don’t even do this on purpose. When they’re trying to calm me down (get out of trouble) they end up doing things that are worse. They’ll stop touching the oven so they can put a baby in the toilet. They’ll stop putting a baby in the toilet so they can do somersaults off the couch (they don’t know how to do somersaults). Essentially, they bring on more stress.
But there are things they do that no matter how bad I’m feeling or how depressed I am, I can’t help but smile. Your kid has these too, I’m sure they do. It’s part of how good kids are at just being kids. So wanna know my calm me down things?
Listening to the l,m,n,o,p part of the alphabet as recited by a two year old.
Looking at a family picture, family elf and all, as drawn by a four year old
Looking at the faces of my daughters on Christmas morning.
Watching the shake your sillies out movement to Raffi’s Shake Your Sillies Out.
Seeing how the treat the first ice cream of the summer.
Watching their eyes slowly close and jolt back open while watching a movie at night because they want to stay in Mommy and Daddy’s bed as long as possible.
Running and jumping into their uncle’s arms.
Listening to a 4-year-old try and read a sentence because she’s determined to do so.
One sister walking over to the other sister and planting a big kiss on her head.
Any time they say “I love you.”
So those are my calming moments mu kids can bring on. The kind of moments that take the frustrations of parenting (because who are we kidding, there are many) and throw them away like my youngest would throw her baby doll.
I don’t know if my kids, or kids in general, know the kind of effect they have on the people around them. I don’t think they understand that without trying they can bring a smile to someone’s face. I hope my kids continue to hold this superpower forever and that they continue to use it for good instead of evil. I hope they continue to show that it doesn’t take grand gestures to make someone happy and that you don’t need to overthink gestures of kindness. Do what comes naturally and maybe you’ll make someone smile too.